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Bryan Caplan: September 2014

An Author Archive by Month (21 entries)

Pious Thinking

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I often argue that popular ideas are deeply mistaken.  I attacked everything from nationalism and militarism to Tiger Parenting and labor market regulation.  There's one utterly corrupt outlook, though, that I almost never bother to criticize.  As soon as I... MORE

Why is the Right Soft on Education?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When the American left complains about domestic poverty, you might think the American right's standard response would be either:1. "What poverty?  By any sensible standard, the 'American poor' are rich."2. "America doesn't have a poverty problem; it's the American poor... MORE

Social Security: The Inside Story

Social Security
Bryan Caplan
The Social Security Administration's latest "Actuarial Note" is as fascinating as actuarial notes get.  Its main lessons:1. Social Security used to be a great deal.  The poorest one-earner couples born in 1920 got a real return of 9.18%; the richest... MORE

The Welfare State as Extended Warranty

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
"Extended warranty?  How can I lose?"             -- Homer SimpsonValue is subjective, and taste for risk varies widely.  But every economist I've asked - and virtually every savvy consumer - concludes that extended warranties are a lousy deal.  The short... MORE

Social Desirability Bias and Abortion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists have long argued that we should pay a lot more attention to what people do and a lot less attention to what people say.  But they make little effort to justify their pro-action/anti-talk position.  The strongest support for economists'... MORE

The Puzzling Ubiquity of Disability

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In 1976, 8.3% of students in U.S. public schools were officially disabled.  By 2010, the disabled share was up to 13%.  What on earth happened?  This piece by Jay Greene and Greg Forster considers and critiques three main stories.  Prepare... MORE

How High Is Schools' Implicit Land Rent?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If a business rents land, any accountant will count the rent as a cost of doing business.  If a business borrows to buy land, any accountant will count the interest payments as a cost of doing business.  What happens, though,... MORE

Tribal Desire

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
On Twitter, Mark Krikorian opined that, "Desire for membership in a tribe is as inherent to the human personality as some form of body covering."  He's not exactly wrong, but omits three essential caveats.1. Desire for tribal membership varies widely. ... MORE

The Universal Citizenist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In the past, I've argued that Steve Sailer's citizenism is a moral travesty.  Advancing the interests of your in-group should always play second fiddle to respecting the rights of out-groups.  But recently, he presented what sounds like a universal argument... MORE

Implicit Rent and the True Cost of Education Bleg

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
As far as I can tell, spending statistics for education do not count implicit land rent as part of the cost of education.  The Digest of Education Statistics' Table 213 for example, states that:Current expenditures include instruction, support services, food... MORE

The Logic of Gilensian Activism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Martin Gilens' Affluence and Influence argues that when America's rich disagree with their fellow citizens, American democracy heeds the rich.  His evidence is hardly airtight, but by the standards of social science, it's fairly compelling.  To me, he provides an... MORE

Open Borders: My Vox Interview

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The noble Dylan Matthews interviewed me on open borders for Vox.  Here's his write-up.  Here's the full interview.  We shall overcome.... MORE

A Szaszian Take on Conformity Signaling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From The Sheepskin Psychosis by John Keats:By what standards do the college psychiatrists judge [would-be drop-outs] to be immature?  A psychiatrist is prone to measure maturity by the degree to which an individual adapts or adjusts to, or accepts or... MORE

Silent Citizenism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Topher Hallquist effectively preaches cosmopolitanism to the Effective Altruism community:Can you imagine a politician advocating free trade on the grounds that, while it might hurt the politician's own country a little, it would have enormous benefits for people living in... MORE

First Cut

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When I try to convince my ideological opponents that a government program is a waste of money, I often succeed.  More than a few liberals have responded to my case against education by shrugging, "You're totally right - what a... MORE

Dear Catherine,I was very pleased to read your "The College Degree Has Become the New High School Degree."  I'm currently writing a book defending the signaling model of education.  You're clearly taking my favorite story seriously:Note, though, that the skills... MORE

Where I Dissent from Nathan Smith

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My former student Nathan Smith has published a gracious critique of yours truly.  Since he begins his critique with generous praise, let me do the same: Nathan Smith is probably the most brilliant Ph.D. student I've ever had the pleasure... MORE

EconLog reader Meretta Marks sent me the following request:Would you consider the following topic for your EconLog blog: "What every high school junior should know before thinking of going to college" Suppose.....it's the beginning of the school year in high... MORE

Yellen is a Good Keynesian

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From: My Department of Credit Where Credit Is DueI've previously insisted that when there's high unemployment, all good Keynesians should say "Wages must fall!"  I'm delighted to learn, then, that Janet Yellen is one of the good Keynesians.The stagnation in... MORE

How to Teach the Income and Substitution Effects

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
The shape of the demand curve depends on two forces: the substitution effect and the income effect.  A typical treatment:When the price of q1, p1, changes there are two effects on the consumer. First, the price of q1 relative to... MORE

Against Winning

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When I was a child, adults taught us to look down on bad winners.  The maxim: "It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game."  The implicit model was something like: Yes, winning is better than... MORE

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